Friday, September 7, 2007

My Mind is Limited by Lack of Information (or, Do These Box Cutters Make Me Look Fat?)

I occasionally tape the 3:00 am showing of IMF's "One World," but normally I fast-forward through most if not all of the videos. Yes, I skip the Italian woman with her guitar, or the Japanese band playing amidst the orange cones, or the English man and woman lying on the street, and so forth. Lately, Veronica Maggio's been about the only person to stop my fast-forwarding, and Dumpa Mig is an old song.

But between fast forwards this morning, I caught the name of a German band called "Nevada Tan." I figured that the band name referred to either

  • the hot sun that colors the skin in Nevada, or

  • some veiled reference to nuclear testing.
In both cases, I was wrong.

The band's name comes from Nevada-tan, a japanese schoolgirl notorious for murdering a fellow classmate with a box-cutter.

The fact that the band was a featured performer at Schau nicht weg, a show dedicated to opposing school violence, merely underscores the history of the band's name.

So, since the band was named after the Japanese schoolgirl, how did she get the name? First, the story (which I had not heard about before today):

On June 1, 2004 in Okubo Elementary School in Sasebo, a port city in northwest Kyushu, Japan, an eleven-year-old girl convinced classmate Satomi Mitarai, 12, to follow her into an empty classroom during lunch break. There, the girl slit Satomi's wrists and throat with a box cutter, leaving her bleeding on the floor. Horrified teachers learned what happened when the girl returned to class covered in blood. Though they summoned aid quickly, Satomi's wounds were too great, and she died later that day.

Upon investigation, the girl killer, whose real name has not been disclosed in accordance with Japanese law shielding the identity of minors, cited a series of message board posts in which Satomi, with whom she had previously been friendly, had mocked her as heavy. Satomi had been warned to stop....

In the aftermath of the killing, internet surfers discovered the killer's home page. Based on information contained there, we know her birthday (November 21, 1992), her blood type (A), and her favorite sport (basketball). A diary was fairly dark, reflecting an interest in the occult, the urban legend of a "red room" - a Ring-like killer internet site - and particularly creepily, the children-as-killers movie and book Battle Royale.

And this led to the name:

A more important discovery, in terms of the killer's legend, was a photograph of the two girls' elementary school class. Satomi stood smiling at the left edge of the group. Next to her stood a girl identified as the killer, wearing a more inscrutable expression and a black sweatshirt with the word "NEVADA" across the chest in white, apparently from the University of Nevada. From this picture comes the name by which the killer is commonly known, Nevada-tan. ("Tan" is a stereotypical childish mispronunciation of the diminutive honorific "chan" - the overall effect has been translated as something akin to "Widdle Nevada")

And this is apparently where the whole "Nevada Tan" thing took off:

On the basis of this picture, Nevada-tan became a catchphrase and iconic figure on popular Japanese online image board 2ch and its corresponding anglophonic imitator 4ch. Like similar internet communities such as the Something Awful forums, these message boards act as semiotic playgrounds, heavily focused on the reappropriation of images and meaning. Individual posters created a wide variety of art with Nevada-tan as a subject.

Examples of this Nevada-tan fiction abound. Here's one:

This is a character based on the real-life killer Nevada-tan. She's built as a Skilled Normal.

Background: In 2004, an eleven-year-old Japanese schoolgirl murdered a classmate. Her name was never released to the public, known as "Suspect A" officially and "Nevada-tan" elsewhere. She is, officially, still in prison.

Unofficially, though, she escaped in June 2007 with another delinquent, and, after stealing some money, she went to the yakuza to pay for passports. When she learned they only had enough money for one passport and one plane ticket, she murdered her accomplice and quietly fled to the United States as Sakura Hazumi, going to Hudson City to meet her grandmother.

It wasn't long until she realized that she didn't have enough money to last, nor any way to gain employment legally. She instead did what she did to get to the Pearl City in the first place: Murder and looting. Her killing to survive would become a psychological addiction.

Her fingerprints are not on file and she has no criminal background, thanks to her false identity.

Quote: <"I'm sorry, -san, but I'm going to have to kill you now.">

In my younger years, I will admit to participating in the creation of a fictional character (in a D&D ripoff called BIHI) based on Michael Nesmith. However, Nesmith is not known to have killed anybody (though I guess I'd better check and make sure that Lucy, Ramona, and Sunset Sam are still living).

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